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Patty Loveless - Sleepless Nights
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
10/28/08

In the fickle world of country music, where to stay in radio demand artists have to keep topping their last success, it’s pleasing to hear some like to make music for music’s sake. Take Patty Loveless. She’s released Sleepless Nights, a 14-track appreciative nod to songs that have gone the distance. It’s a pleasing release. And it’s pleasing for many valid reasons.

With producer husband Emory Gordy, Jr. in tow, Loveless breathes love and life into some classics on this covers album. I’ve mostly shrieked and cowered from such albums, believing to tamper with timeless originals amounts to foolishness for the artist and a waste of hard gained dollars for consumers.

But, and convincingly, the vital Loveless has proved me wrong. Blessed with one of the more distinctive voices in country, she wins the listener easily with a range of songs more polished than tampered.

With a slew of females doing the rounds, mostly same-sounding with the same glossed and tweaked voice and range, Loveless stands out and stands tall. She’s served the apprenticeship, having received a guitar at age 11 and song writing not long after. She’s honed her craft, done the treadmill of hard yards, so it’s fitting she should approach some dusted and true country with a deserved confidence.

And, that, she has.

Heartache and misery never sounded sweeter. Infused with just enough players and instruments to make the sound spare but ample, Loveless signs and seals as her own some memorable moments. For this pure-voiced distant cousin to Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gail, tracks like “Why Baby Why”, “He Thinks I Still Care”, the lonely ache (helped by Vince Gill on harmony vocals) of “Sleepless Nights” and the Webb Pierce wailer “There Stands The Glass” are all keepers.

Ray Price’s 1956 honky-tonk Billboard County Chart #1, “Crazy Arms”, receives this reviewer’s stamp of approval, too. With a rich, clear and soaring voice, Loveless weaves her vocal feel around the pedal steel, not crowding, not overshadowing, but just making the track her own.

And, in essence, that’s the winning formula at play here. Loveless makes these dated gems her own. There’s no need to clone a sound, mimic a style, as she knows, instinctively, what works and what won’t.

The final words belong to the Kentucky songbird, who told a journalist some time back: “ I’ve never been one to carry a banner of traditional country. But that’s what happened with me; and I do think that I do the traditional style well.”

She does.

The traditional country soul of Patty Loveless, as heard on Sleepless Nights, is out now on Saguaro Records.

Track listing:

1. WHY BABY WHY
2. THE PAIN OF LOVING YOU
3. HE THINKS I STILL CARE
4. SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
5. CRAZY ARMS
6. THERE STANDS THE GLASS
7. THAT'S ALL IT TOOK
8. COLOR OF THE BLUES
9. I FORGOT MORE THAN YOU'LL EVER KNOW
10. NEXT IN LINE
11. DON'T LET ME CROSS OVER
12. PLEASE HELP ME, I'M FALLING
13. THERE GOES MY EVERYTHING
14. COLD, COLD HEART

 


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